Dr. Matthew James Howell was born on July 19, 1927 in Southampton County, Va. He is the son of Parker D. Howell and Mattie Carr Howell and was better known by the nicknames of Tom and Tommy. He attended Chuckatuck Elementary School and graduated from Chuckatuck High School in 1945. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent most of his time as a corpsman at the U.S. Navy Hospital in Portsmouth, Va. He entered Elon College in the spring of 1947 and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry. He worked as a chemist with the DuPont Corporation in Camden, South Carolina until the fall of 1955 when he entered the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. He graduated from MCV in 1959 with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He practiced general dentistry in Portsmouth, Va. until he retired in 1999. He was a member of the Tidewater Dental Association, the Virginia Dental Association and the American Dental Association.